WPP is partnering with The One Club for Creativity to launch One School UK, a free 16- week online portfolio program designed to open doors to a career in advertising for talented UK-based Black creatives.
One School launched in the US in 2020 as a free alternative to ad schools to provide new career opportunities for creative Black individuals and make agency and brand creative departments more diverse.
The One Club says the US school has already made a tangible difference: an 80% hire rate at top agencies and brands for its 128 graduates to date, 65% of whom are women.
The virtual One School UK will welcome its first students in March 2023. Black creatives from all areas are encouraged to apply for one of just 15 places. No prior knowledge of advertising is required.
The UK school will be run by Ez Blaine, founding Creative Partner at Uncommon Experience Studio in London. Blaine, who is British, ran One School West while living in Los Angeles. He previously held creative leadership positions at brands and agencies including ChowNow, Apple, Sonos and WPP’s AKQA.
Blaine stated, “As a Black creative from the UK, it’s very meaningful to me to return here and help bring new Black talent into the creative industry. Our choice of Black lecturers and mentors helps close the gap and exposes students to creative leaders who they can relate to, allowing them to see a pathway for themselves into the industry. This is about teaching students to stand out for their Blackness, be 100% authentic to who they are and understand the value that brings.”
The partnership will form part of WPP’s Racial Equity Program which is a three-year, $30 million commitment to fund inclusion programs within the company and to support external organizations.
Karen Blackett OBE, President of WPP in the UK, said that in part the new program is “about recognizing that, without diversity, our industry simply won’t thrive. The One School has been described as one of the biggest social change programs in the history of the US ad industry. I can’t wait to see what it can do here in the UK.”
The US program was co-founded with The One Club by Spotify Creative Director Oriel Davis-Lyons, who worked with industry veteran and One Club Head of Creative Development Bob Isherwood to develop the school shortly after the death of George Floyd. The initiative aims to ensure that the high cost of portfolio schools does not get in the way of giving world-class Black creative talent a route into the industry.